Fay Sampson’s Family History
This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)
PETER STONEMAN and MARY (11)
PETER STONEMAN. A younger Peter Stoneman married in Chulmleigh in 1656 and raised his family there. We should expect him to be born around 1630. The Chulmleigh registers only go back to 1634.
There were no Stonemans in the 1569 Muster Roll for Chulmleigh.
The earliest record we have of this surname in Chulmleigh is the Protestation Return of 1641. One of those taking the oath of allegiance to the king and Parliament is Peter Stoneman. There is a strong probability that this is the younger Peter’s father.
MARY. We have not found her burial, but the will of Mary Stoneman of Chulmleigh, widow, was proved in 1647, towards the end of the Civil War. Since there is only one adult male of that name in the Chulmleigh Protestation Return, there is a very good chance that she is his wife and the mother of Peter junior.
These perceptions are borne out by the fact that Peter Stoneman junior named his first two children Mary and Peter. There was a strong tradition in Devon of using one’s parents’ names. The coincidence here is too strong to be ignored.
There were baptisms in Chulmleigh in 1659 and 1661 for children of John Stoneman. He may be another son.
The fact that Mary was a widow in 1647 leads to the conclusion that Peter senior died in the 1640s. . If his children were born in the 1630s, he was probably still in his forties. He may well have been a casualty of the Civil War
Chulmleigh is a hilltop market town 13 miles NW of Crediton and 7 miles south of South Molton. It stands on an eminence above the River Taw. Its prosperity was based on the weaving of wool and sheep rearing on the surrounding farms.
In the English Civil War of the 1640s, unlike the Scottish one, the principal issue was not religion, but the balance of power between King Charles I, who believed in the divine right of kings, and Parliament who wanted a say in government and taxation. In addition, Puritanism enjoyed considerable popularity in the 17th century and Puritans would almost always side with Parliament.
Even before the war, Chulmleigh was known for its Puritan sentiments. In 1630 it held several conventicles, unlawful gatherings of non-conformists. In 1634 a hired preacher arrived from London, though Archbishop Laud drove him out soon afterwards. The lack of Old Testament names, or names like Prudence and Charity, show us that the Stonemans were not amongst these fervent Puritans.
Cloth towns like Chulmleigh particularly supported Parliament because Charles I’s frequent wars were playing havoc with the export of the woollen goods for which England was famous and because of the heavy taxation these wars involved. Chulmleigh was one of the foremost among the King’s opponents.
In the decade before the war, Charles demanded a tax known as Ship Money to finance his fighting fleet. Some people refused to pay. In Chulmleigh there were twelve defaulters, putting it into the third highest category in Devon for the number of non-payers.
When war broke out in 1642, Chulmleigh was strongly for Parliament
There was a skirmish between the two sides at Chulmleigh in 1645.
In 1646 the town constables were reported by Royalists to be to be “ill-affected” to the King. This is borne out by the other side. The following month, Parliamentary sources noted that the Royalists had “threatened. . . to plunder the town, which is generally well-affected”. 
This was no idle threat. When Lord Goring’s notorious Royalist cavalry retreated across Devon after a heavy defeat, they trashed the looms in Parliament-supporting towns like Crediton, leaving the weavers with no means of earning a living.
When the Parliamentary General Fairfax advanced towards Chulmleigh, the country people round about “showed themselves very joyful at his approach, and brought in much provision to our army”.
When Fairfax quartered his troops in Chulmleigh in 1646, he was on his way from Crediton to Great Torrington, where he won the last great battle on Devon soil, ending the Royalist campaign in the south-west. At the height of the fighting, a spark ignited the barrels of gunpowder stored in the church. The church was destroyed and the prisoners held there killed.
Neither Mary nor Peter lived to see the end of the Civil War.
 Stoyle, Mark. Loyalty and Locality: Popular Allegiance in Devon during the English Civil War. University of Exeter Press, 1994.
NEXT GENERATION: 10. STONEMAN-FENNER